Ultimate Bass

KeelShield Installation

KS Marine Products has a variety of boat protection products available to the watercraft owner. The most popular or well known is the KeelShield. I have used the KeelShield on all my boats for the last 6 years, totaling four boats. The protection you get, the peace of mind when you have to beach your boat, and ease of installation makes it a must have for me.

KS Marine Keelshield

Recently Scott Smith, owner of KS Marine, developed a way of bonding Kevlar with the current KeelShield to create and even stronger shield of protection for the hull of your boat or watercraft. When Scott told me about this new product, I had to give it a try. I have beached my boat on sand, rocks, even asphalt or corrugated concrete ramps before and never damaged a KeelShield; however, you can never have too much protection.

My first concern was that, with the bonding of Kevlar, the KeelShield may lose some of its flexibility. Once attached to your boat there is no need for it to be flexible; however, being able to bend and fold the KeelShield during installation is necessary. Pleasantly surprised the Kevlar KeelShield is just as pliable as the original.

The installation process for both the original KeelShield and the new Kevlar KeelShield is the same, in 6 simple steps the bottom of your boat will be protected against most anything you can rub or bump it against. The KeelShield also adds a little bling to your boat. The Kevlar KeelShield matches my trailer perfectly and looks outstanding when installed.

Keelshield install

The first step is to find the water line on your boat. Unless you’re like me and wipe your boat down after every trip to the lake, finding your water line is simply looking for the dirt line that forms on the side of your boat from the surface of the water. For me, I’ve wiped mine down enough to know exactly where my boats water line is. You’ll need to know the water line so you can install the KeelShield starting at least 6 inches above the waterline at the bow of the boat. I used one of my grandkids white crayons to mark where I wanted to start.

With some ingenuity one man can install a KeelShield, it is much easier with two people for the next step. Holding the KeelShield in place, take the crayon (or grease pencil) and trace out the KeelShield down the length of your keel. This time I had a friend hold the KeelShield in place while I traced it with the crayon. On a previous install, I simply used packers tape to hold the KeelShield in place while I traced it out. Now, with the tracing is done, lower the KeelShield out of the way and set aside.

Keelshield installation process

In the box with the KeelShield, there is a small buffing pad. Using this pad you’re instructed to buff the area, inside the trace you just made, lightly. This is to take the gloss off your gel coat. You’re not trying to remove scratches that are already there. Minor scratches are not an issue. Simply, lightly scratch the surface of the boats keel. I can attest that it doesn’t take much pressure, and after about 3 inches, you’re wondering if you are doing it right. The first one I installed I was afraid if the KeelShield didn’t stick that I had just ruined the bottom of my boat. Let me put any concerns to rest on this, it’s going to stick. The two part formulas that KeelShield uses are very tacky and very strong. When it comes to actually installing the KeelShield you’ll need to make sure everything is lined up right, or it’s going to be crooked without any hope of adjusting it.

Keelshield installation procedures

The next step is the only part of the process that is not provided in the box, and there simply isn’t much Scott can do about it do to shipping constraints. You’ll need a bottle of Isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface that your KeelShield will be applied too. Don’t be cheap here, buy the $1.29 bottle of alcohol. It cleans quickly and leaves no residue, which is why it’s recommended. Use plenty of it, don’t be stingy, getting the area that the KeelShield will apply to clean is the most important part of this process. Take your time and clean it, and re-clean it until no dirt shows up on a clean paper towel.

Once the area is clean it’s time to apply the activator. Simply take the provided activator and wipe down the area that you prepared by buffing and cleaning. Once the activator solution is applied and has dried it’s time to install your KeelShield.

KeelShield installation tips

This is where I always panic. There is adhesive on the back of the KeelShield, and once it contacts the activator that you’ve applied to your boat, it’s stuck! I panic because I want to make sure it’s straight, if your off just a little bit when you start, by the time you finish it will be way off. Fortunately there are three strips of backing, this allows you to pull the middle strip and work with getting your KeelShield lined up, without worrying about the edges of the KeelShield sticking in a position that would throw the alignment off. Take your time, make sure the front edge is square and that you have the center of the KeelShield, and work it down the length of the boat pressing it against the keel as you go. Once you have the center KeelShield stuck to the bottom of the boat, now go back and work the edges of the KeelShield rolling them flat against the hull working from the keel towards the outside.

Keelshield installation tips

Installing the Kevlar KeelShield took about 90 minutes. Scott provides a very detailed step by step process that outlines in great detail all that you need to do in order to get the perfect installation. As you can see in the photos I have a black hull; however, my trailer is Tuff Coated. The Kevlar KeelShield matches my trailer perfectly. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the Kevlar KeelShield looks installed on my boat; the texture and color emphasize the trailer very well.

Performance is phenomenal. My first test was to beach my boat on a launch ramp. Simply to see if this caused any marking on the KeelShield and as expected it did not. At my local lakes, the launching facilities are small, and two lane ramps with a single dock are common. So finding a place to pick up or drop off your partner to get the vehicle can be difficult. The KeelShield solves this issue, if I have a bank line I can comfortably beach my boat.

Fishing a lot of river systems that are full of sandbars and stumps, having the KeelShield is a wise investment. If you’ve ever sold a boat, you know that the first thing a potential buyer does is examine the bottom of the boat. If you have a KeelShield installed, they won’t find a scratch or mark. If you already have scratches along your boats keel, the KeelShield will cover them up, and give your boats keel a fresh, new look.

Installed KeelShield

KeelShield is offered in a variety of colors to match any hull. I normally choose a color that matches, black on black or red on red. I have seen boats that choose a different route. One in particular was black with red stripes; the hull was also black. After installing a red KeelShield, it made the boat stand out even more. Not only does the KeelShield protect your boat, it also adds accents that can really set it off when sitting on the trailer.

As I mentioned at the start, I have used a KeelShield on several boats, and highly recommend them. They are very simple to install, they add a nice finished look to your hull, and the protect against scratches and chips. Plus, the piece of mind knowing if you have to beach your boat, the hull is safe. Cork Tested, simple and effective, durable and stylish.

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Mike Cork
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